How Trump Won: We’re All Mad Here!

alice-in-trump-land

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

As in everything in life, the question of how Donald Trump was able to pull off a victory in the 2016 Presidential Election has a number of distinctive answers that, in my estimation, make sense. Please allow me, as a simple act of self-therapy, to try and elaborate how we find ourselves in the midst of this Mad Tea Party

1. Strong Beliefs Take Precedence Over “Character Flaws”

As I have mentioned in a previous post, voters prioritized certain political issues over the multitude of character flaws* that the candidate has waved like a red cape in front of the eyes of national and world opinion.

Some subjects that many have a visceral belief in are:

• Protection of the 2nd Amendment.
• Abortion is wrong and should be outlawed.
• There is a need to stem a flood of illegal immigrants flocking across America’s borders.

Hot button issues such as these, in all probability, led a good number of people to overlook The Donald’s major personality failings* in favor of a candidate who stated unequivocally that he would take care of these problems as soon as he takes office

(*Please note that phrases such as “Character Flaws” and “personality failings” should more accurately be translated as obscene, misogynistic, bullying, narcissistic demagoguery)

2. Stupidity Before Truth – (Stultitia Ante Veritate)

My blog, Why Is America So Stupid.com, was originally begun in April of 2016 because I could not fathom why a large number of my fellow Americans found Donald Trump to be a viable candidate for POTUS. Further along in the election year it was implausible to believe for even a second that this despicable human being would become the Republican Party’s nominee for the highest office in the land. Now that I am sound asleep in my comfy bed, and currently having the weird-ass nightmare that he actually won the 2016 election, I am forced to try and make sense of this outcome.

While it would be spurious of me to insist that Trump’s victory was attained through the support of a constituency made up entirely of drooling cretins, there is certainly some accuracy to say that there are many people out there who have believed every idiotic thing that Trump has trumpeted!

If you are one of the simpletons who bought every piece of shit Donald Trump tried to sell you please be aware of the following:
A. He has never had, nor does he have, any intention of seeking prosecution or prison for Hillary Clinton. It would be neither politically beneficial for he and his friends, nor would it be good for business.

B. Nobody ever had any desire to take away your guns. Gun control is aimed at those who are not sane enough or law-abiding enough to be trusted with them. If you wish to protect these people’s right to own an AK-47, then maybe as a sign of your camaraderie you might want to move to their neighborhood.

C. If he proceeds to try and build a wall, it will not affect illegal immigration in the slightest. If you don’t believe me look at a fucking map of the USA.

D. Any of the other hair-brained plans he has mentioned in his rhetoric, will be difficult, if not impossible to get accomplished. They would have to make it through challenges by the Legislative Branch, which will have its own constituencies to deal with as well as an eye to the recent election won only by an electoral vote and not a popular majority. As for the Supreme Court, even if it is given a slight rightward shift, it is still an entity unto itself when deciding the constitutionality of an issue. Knowing this, it is doubtful that any thoughts about “deportation” would ever come to fruition.

In other words my in-bred, Nazified, sheet wearing, half-witted fellow Americans, this king of hyperbole has sold you a bag of horseshit, while getting you to believe that it’s really a sack of gold. Blatant lies and insults do not a leader make.

What did you get the man who had everything: A four-year term as president!
Next time just buy him a singing-bass wall plaque.

3. An opponent with more baggage than a visiting royal

= a Trump victory

I think the majority of thinking Americans were totally ready to see the election of the first woman POTUS. However, other than Hillary, no other woman in American politics really wanted the honor. In addition, the Democratic National Convention, and all the “super-delegates” who owed the Clintons big-time, seemed to block Bernie Sanders at every turn.

Bernie was the only candidate on the Democratic ticket who could make the same claim that got Trump elected – Although he was a US Senator, he was not tainted by the label of “Washington Insider” like Hillary was. This alone would have given him a victory over Trump.

And this brings us to the main reason that we now have a Trump Presidency !

4. A “Man of the People” to Fight the American Political System

Donald J. Trump – a man of the people?
Yeah right, so were Comrade Stalin and Adolf Hitler!

It is, however, safe to say that whether you lean left or right, the way the American political system functions (or perhaps more accurately doesn’t function) is unacceptable. It is indeed a matter of record that Donald claimed to be against “the Washington D.C.” crowd from the beginning of his campaign. Of course in the past there were ads that featured doctors who claimed that smoking Camel cigarettes would “give your throat a vacation!” So you might say I’m skeptical.

Many saw Donald Trump’s immense wealth as a bulwark against the influences of political lobbyists, He did not need their money to fund his campaign and they assumed that he would not be tempted to kowtow to them during his Presidency. Many voters saw the fact that Trump did not really need to be beholding to any special interests as an indication that he would be free of these influences if elected. Unfortunately, if a President backs many his buddies who are involved in these interests already, (like fossil fuel to name just one) there is no need to spend money to seduce him; he is already your bedfellow!

The majority of his supporters saw Donald Trump as a person who was not afraid to “tell it like it is”. Whether he meant what he said, will eventually be determined, but whatever twisted thought popped into The Donald’s undiplomatic mind, it, through the lack of any self-censoring ability, made its way to his lips faster than shit through a goose (to use Grandma’s apropos cliché). For everyone who was put off by these vulgar ideas and rhetorical flourishes, there was someone else who, voting from their “guts”, approved of his straight from the hip gutter-speak even when (or in many cases because) it took tones that were unabashedly racist or sexist.

Many even saw him as a rough and tumble, self-made, New York businessman. (Except, of course, for that “small million dollar loan” from Dad) To all of you small businessmen who supported Trump because of some kind of a deluded feeling of kindred spirit, all I can say is that if you ever sell him a Pastrami sandwich, get the money upfront. There are plenty of companies that are out of business because the Donald stiffed them.

So to the best of my cerebral pondering, these are the reasons that seem to be responsible for the shit-storm in which we now find ourselves. Therefore, if:

• You are one of those who prioritized one specific political stand above the good of the rest of the nation

• You were dumb enough to drink, without question, the poisoned Kool-Aid Trump was selling you

• You were a member of the elitist clique that controls the Democratic Party

• You believed that your champion of the common man, Donald J. Trump, was just another good ol’ boy businessman like Floyd the Barber

Then you have given Donald Trump and the far right wing of the Republican Party the reins of our national government for the next four years.

“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alternative Universe: Election 2016

What if there was “Bizarro” Universe* and Donald Trump was the political opposite that he is in our world? To put it another way, what if the Trump/Pence Republican platform championed liberal values? Imagine Donald J. Trump as a defender of a woman’s right to choose, a champion of environmental issues, including the idea that global climate change is a reality brought on my the massive use of fossil fuels. Suppose Trump was a supporter of tolerance and an enemy of racial discrimination, as well as believing that that even illegal immigrants should be given a chance to become citizens in a country whose values they hold as dearly as native-born residents do.

Ok, now… are you still with me?

Now let’s say this same Donald J. Trump was still a total asshole!

In other words, other than his political ideals, which might happen to be similar to your own, this Bizaaro Donald J. Trump is an egomaniacal, narcissistic, misogynist, who makes fun of disabled people, brags about grabbing women “by the pussy” considers anybody lass affluent than himself, or less than a “10” on the attractive scale “a loser” and, as well, is a bully, a philanderer, a lecher and a potential pedophile. In addition lets suppose that this Bizaaro Trump has, like his real-world counterpart, filed for bankruptcy four times, criticized a well-known POW by saying” I like people who weren’t captured”, has paid no Income Tax in the past 20 years (claiming that simply makes him smart) and ran a “University” scam that is currently under investigation for fraud.

As a someone with a Liberal leaning, could you really still bring yourself to vote for this guy even if his opponent were a champion of the Right? Would Bizaaro Trump still get your vote over a candidate in favor of reversing Roe vs. Wade, who was pro-fossil fuel, who thought Global Warming was non-existent or even a Chinese plot, was a racist who had the proclaimed backing of the Ku-Klux-Klan as well as such antagonistic anti-American leaders as Kim-Jun-Un and Vladimir Putin?

It was only when I forced myself to view this presidential election in these terms that I realized that, for many people, the strong, almost fanatical support of one or two specific party platforms can be enough for them to happily ignore the myriad of his negative aspects and support Donald Trump for POTUS.

Although there are many, many stupid people who support Donald Trump, for reasons only their little pea brains can comprehend, there are also (and I can’t believe that I’m saying this) some people out there who are backing Trump for some logical political reasons.

Prioritizing as a Reason for Support

There are a good number of people out there who abhor Trump’s major personal and political flaws but, because they believe that certain policies, which Trump is avowedly for, are of far more importance than the fact that Trump is a complete asshole, they fully intend to vote for him.

Right-wing supporters of such platforms as “Right-to-Life” see this issue as trumping (no pun intended) absolutely any other aspect of the election. I have no doubt that, if the New York Times published a 100% verified story about Donald Trump working weekends as a circus geek, biting the heads off of live chickens, the large majority of these supporters would respond “Well that may be true, but at least “The Donald” will overturn Roe vs. Wade.”

The same thing goes for all of those people who, after thinking it over long and hard, are willing to forgive Trump all of his trespasses as long as he builds that fucking wall! They are prioritizing the importance of their strongly held belief and selecting it over the undebatable fact that the election of Donald J. Trump to the highest office in the land will bring about a presidential term of cataclysmic proportions.

There is however, hope for these people.

            If you have an acquaintance who is an avowed Trump supporter, and this support is due to the feeling that one of the issues that Trump champions is so important that they are forced to overlook all his past assholyness and scumbaggery, then please do this:

Don’t bother trying to repeat the myriad of faults, lies and chicanery of “The Donald” to them. They will not listen. Instead calmly explain the following…

  1. At this point, unless Jesus H. Christ comes down from heaven and campaigns for Donald Trump while riding a Tyrannosaurus that shoots lasers from his eyes, Trump has got as much of a chance of becoming President as I do of becoming Pope. (Which ain’t gonna happen.)
  1. Therefore if you really believe in that special, much-cherished ideal of yours, which this wife-cheating, bill-skipping, tax-dodging megalomaniac is merely saying he agrees with just to get your vote, why don’t you find another candidate who is running for POTUS who really believes in this just as strongly as you do!
  1. Explain that there are many non-mainstream candidates who would love to have their vote. In fact rather than throwing their right to vote away on a charlatan who is out to screw everybody except his rich friends, please consider voting for one of the candidates below who strongly believe as you do:

The following candidates are running as ”Third Party” candidates or as Independents and may (or may not ) be on the ballot in your state. You will have to check out their policies for yourself. (No promises, but at least they are not Trump.)

The Libertarian Party

The Constitution Party

The Green Party       * Please note a vote for this party might take away votes from the Democratic candidate (Just like it did in the Bush/Gore Election of 2000. (Remember that one ?)

http://www.glorialariva4president.com/

https://www.rocky2016.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Rev2016

http://www.themilitant.com/

www.evanmcmullin.com/issues

http://approvalvotingparty.org/

http://www.scottcopelandusa.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RichardDuncanForPresident2016/

http://www.slaveryends2016.com/

http://www.hedgesandbayes2016.org/

http://www.legalcannabisnow.org/

To see at least 15 more candidates who you might want to vote for, and might be on the ballot in your state please go to: http://www.politics1.com/p2016.htm

If you scroll waaaaaay down to the bottom of that webpage, you will also find a treasure-trove of candidates, who you might want as your write-in candidate. Once again, at least they’re not “The Donald”.

The Failure of the American Educational System: Question. Answer. Solution?

The Question, the Answers and the Potential Solutions

 

Hello, I beg pardon once again for my extended hiatus. Unfortunately, when you are a teacher, this sort of thing happens from time to time.

The Question

I would be grateful, if you would grant me this particular entry to summarize what I have learned so far in our intellectual query: Why is America so stupid? I would also like to put forth some solutions, albeit some that would be rather difficult to achieve; possibilities that probably have as much a chance of reaching fruition in my lifetime as Donald Trump admitting that Barack Obama was born in the United States and then trying to blame the “birther movement” on Hillary Clinton… Oh… wait…

Well, maybe these solutions do have a chance after all.

The Answers

Since beginning this blog, eight months ago, I have seriously endeavored to answer the aforementioned question as to the ongoing and steadily rising level of stupid in this great country of ours. And, for the record, I do believe that our country, when sticking to its proclaimed ideals, is already great and not a nation that needs to be returned to some mythical “greatness” of the past. That being said, a distressingly large proportion of the American population has been dumbed-down and kept to this level of ignorance by the following entities:

  • The Failure of the American Educational System
  • Manipulation by Mainstream Mass Media
  • The Conflicted Interests of the American, Politico-Corporate System
  • The Suppression of Scientific and Intellectual Inquiry by Christian Fundamentalism

 

In order to purpose specific responses to our over-arching question, along with proposed solutions, I will ask your indulgence and, for both the sake of clarity and hopefully a succinct and interesting read, address only one of my intellectual bugaboos at a time.

Thus we begin:

The Failure of the American Educational System

Insufficient funding and systemic complacency are the two main contributing factors in an educational system that is trending downward in a myriad of ways and thus contributing to the rise of “Stupid America”. Despite what politicians, private sector charter school salespeople and those whose unsolicited advice is preached from the ivory towers of academia say, the suffering of the American Educational System has little or nothing to do with the politically self-serving scapegoats of “test scores and teacher accountability”.

Despite the best attempts of dedicated educators throughout the United States, our educational system finds itself at the mercy of politicians singing the songs that their tax base wants to hear, and a national budget that is still under the greedy and misguided control of that duplicitous Mammon of the Cold War: the military-industrial complex.

For the most part, those who control the funding of our schools at a local level, are usually not elected because they are concerned with providing and improving the quality of education for our students. Rather they often seek office, and are elected, based on a platform of saving the local taxpayers money by wheedling down the amounts that homeowners pay for their school taxes. If honesty were a prerequisite for establishing school boards, they would instead be called “taxpayer boards”, since taxpaying households tend to be the ones served by the members of these creations.

A more important detrimental effect on the quality of our schools, especially when measuring them up against those of other wealthy nations of the world, is the lack of importance our educational system has in terms of its standing in the national budget. In a listing of educational spending as a percentage of each country’s GDP, the United States came in Fifty-Eighth. Education only made up 2% of this Federal Budget while Defense and International Security Assistance made up 20%. In 2011 the United States spent more on its military than the next 13 nations combined including both Russia and China.

To give but a single example of this prioritizing: one B-2 Stealth bomber, back in 1997, held a price tag of $737 million. For the price of this single B-2 bomber, 22,220 American students could have received a four-year university education including tuition, room and board. They could have graduated debt-free and able to fully contribute to the economic and intellectual betterment of our country. Without going into specifics, the same singular amount put toward elementary and secondary education would no doubt have had an equally qualitative effect. If we, as a nation, expect to improve the talent and quality of our population, we must reexamine our priorities and to use an updated version of the archaic aphorism “hammer our swords in to plowshares”; we must repurpose our modern war machine into an educational system that is second to none.

In addition to the re-prioritizing of the Federal Budget, the systemic complacency of our Educational infrastructure is drastically in need of the greatest overhaul in its history.

Like an old boiler heating system that is the heart of a functioning home, the American Educational System has existed in a similar state for more than 100 years. It has been patched, caulked, refitted, had pipes rethreaded, had numerous gauges, valves and radiators replaced, but its still the same old system that is getting weaker and more inefficient as time goes by. It is time to stop these patchwork fixes and, from an organic base, incrementally evolve an entirely new system of education.

Solutions

Since an educated population is less apt to fall victim to the other “horsemen of the bamboozle”: corporately controlled politicians, media manipulation and the anti-intellectual browbeating of Christian Fundamentalism, America needs to work towards some serious and concrete changes in order to stop the flood of Stupid that is overwhelming our nation and allowing wholly unworthy people to vie for the highest position in the land.

  • From fifty separate state-run educational systems that vary widely from state to state due to under-funding, a poverty encumbered populace, and the unconstitutional effect of religious demagoguery in areas where Fundamentalism runs rampant, the United States must create a unified national school system that gives all a chance at an equal high-quality education.
  • A post Cold War United States is long overdue in reevaluating its priorities. The time has come to begin investing in our future by shifting a decent portion of our Federal Budget expenditures from the funding of an excessively powerful military to improving our prospects in the realms of science, technology and the economy by an increase in Federal support given to the American Educational System.
  • Finally, in addition to the shifting of America’s disparate, state-dictated educational systems toward a national amalgamated structure and to the improvement in sorely needed funding for all levels of education in this country, there needs to be a serious reevaluation of our long-standing educational infrastructure. For more than a hundred years the pedagogy in our elementary and secondary schools has been stagnated by a system which, rather than allowing our children to learn varying disciplines at their own pace, forces them to slow-down their natural abilities to a lowest common denominator or to be dragged behind and all too often pushed ahead to the next grade without a firm grip on the knowledge necessary to proceed successfully with their education.

This new ability-oriented method of pedagogy would require a major reassessment in how we teach our children and as well as instituting the following systemic changes:

  • A substantial improvement in the classroom teacher-to-student ratio.
  • Promotion based on the attainment of specific academic mastery. Levels of proficiency in mathematical skills, English-language arts and other subjects should replace the successive and contrived first through twelfth grades.
  • A substantial team including psychologists, social workers and other trained professionals dedicated to the social/emotional welfare of the student population.
  • Elementary education should begin based on an individual child’s readiness to begin school and participate successfully in rudimentary curriculum as determined by preschool assessment
  • A slow process of incorporation beginning with a nation-wide first generation kindergarten and proceeding along with them through their final mastery. (Approximately ten to thirteen-plus years.)
  • No cost, government-sponsored college and skill-based education for all who qualify.
  • A non-negotiable separation between public schools and religion, so that a science-based curriculum may be taught unfettered by personal religious beliefs.
  • A strict policy of classroom removal, which will guarantee that all students will be able to pursue their education with no interference from another student’s habitual misbehavior. This policy will also guarantee that those unable to function in a classroom environment will get the special education and social/emotional help that will allow them to return to a smoothly functioning classroom environment as soon as possible.

Make no mistake; I am fully aware that such major changes will take many years, a lot of study, an enormous amount of capital and an equal amount of patience to attain. It is also probably the single most important, concrete step that can be taken to stem the rising tide of American “stupid”.

In my next posting, I plan on addressing: The Conflicted Interests of the American, Politico-Corporate System.

 

 

 

The New Genesis: Day One

Well folks, I’m living up to my promise: my attempt to create a New and Improved Old Testament. As I mentioned in my previous post, since in the eyes of Christian Fundamentalists, the entire Bible must be taken as literal fact, like any other publication that claims to be non-fiction, it is a book that absolutely screams to be updated every so often.

To complete this task of re-writing the Book of Genesis as I originally intended, I have found it necessary to divide it up into segments. Since God meant the entire universe to be competed in six days, with a day off to kick back ad chill at the end, I am dividing all that creation up into six days as well. Each post will only represent one day, although with the addition of science many of the subsequent parts had to be rearranged in addition to being rewritten. As will be eventually addressed, it hard to define something as a “day” when there hasn’t even been an Earth created, let alone a sun fro it to revolve around.

Please note that the corrections and comments that I plan on making in this series of articles concentrate only on science, or the lack thereof in the Bible. By the addition of the knowledge attained about the natural world based on accepted facts learned through experiments and observation, I will attempt to reach a less alienating consensus between the hard-core, word-for-word believers and those who would feel their intelligences were less insulted by seeing the stories of the Old Testament, in particular, taken as a figurative narration based on a scientific foundation. It is by adding information to the Bible, as well as editing and interpreting certain stories and passages, that I hope to allow those who want a book that they can take literally as Holy Scripture become proud functioning members of the Twenty-First Century.

So with no more ado I present:

The New Genesis: Day One

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 5.46.39 PM

1) In the beginning (about 13.7 billion years ago) God created an incredibly hot, dense point in space. Everything else in the Universe was formless and empty; darkness was over the surface of the deep. (God had not quite gotten around to creating the waters for his spirit to hover over, but since he hadn’t even gotten                                                                                           around to creating time yet, He figured it                                                                                                  could  wait.)


 

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 5.54.41 PM2) And God said, “Let there be light” and all the matter, energy, space and time in the universe, which had been squeezed into that infinitesimally small dense point, erupted in a cataclysmic “explosion” called the Big Bang.

 Three minutes later God saw that the chemical elements, which make up light, were created. God saw that the light was good, but during the first 380,000 years after this Big Bang, the intense heat from the universe’s creation made it essentially too hot for light to shine.

Then on this first “day”, which lasted 380,000 years, atoms crashed together with enough force to break up into a dense, opaque plasma of protons, neutrons and electrons that scattered light like fog. Hence, there was darkness so, He separated the light from the darkness.

After the 380,000 years of this first “day” of the Big Bang had passed,  matter cooled enough for electrons to combine with nuclei to form neutral atoms. This phase is known as “recombination,” and the absorption of free electrons caused the universe to become transparent. If there were anyone around to see it, light could now be seen and it, no doubt, would have been good at least compared to that murky mass of space fog that had been swirling around the neighborhood at that point.


Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.06.00 PM

3) (It is here that we must explain that for God to call the light “day” and the darkness “night would not have made any sense at this juncture since He still had not gotten around to creating the earth or even the sun for the earth to revolve around. Therefore dividing time up into days and nights, just doesn’t work. Lets just assume that these days are sort of like “dog years” in that the first two years of a dog’s life is equal to 10.5 human years each and after that each dog year equals 4 human years.)

So each “God day” will be equal to a different period of time:

Day One = 380 Thousand Years

In our next installment (The New Genesis: Day Two) we see where the writers and editors of the Book Of Genesis really get it all mixed up.

…But its never too late to learn.

 

 

 

The New and Improved Old Testament: Let’s Amend the “Stupid” Out of the “Good Book”

 

Moses in Venice Beach

Hello and happy summer to all my loyal blog followers, new comers, and anyone who may have stumbled here by accident. I am about to take on a chore that few sane individuals would attempt:

 

I’ve decided to update the Bible.

 

Before you click on the “back arrow”, or hit “x”, or the “little red dot”, if you are of the Apple persuasion, please understand that I am absolutely NOT saying that I have any intention whatsoever of rewriting the Bible; I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so. As far as “updating” this ungainly tome, allow me to explain.

 

As those who have been following my haphazard posts by now know, my query of “Why is America so stupid?” has brought me to the solid belief that the blame for our country’s unique brand of Stupid can be laid at the feet of the following institutions: The American Educational System, Mainstream Mass Media, Politico-Corporate Greed and Religious Fundamentalism. In today’s post I turn to the most delicate of these “Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle”: Religious Fundamentalism.

 

First, let me state for the record that, although raised in a nominal Methodist household, I do not have any serious religious leanings toward Christianity in any of its numerous forms. I celebrate the idea of Christmas, as a time of peace, kindness and goodwill toward all men, I went along with the whole Santa Claus shtick for my children’s entertainment, and at Easter I allow that freaking bunny to bring my blood sugar level up to over 300. I do not, however, depend on any religious teachings to direct my moral actions; instead I simply endeavor not to be a nasty, selfish asshole for the entire year. I do this not for any reward in some hitherto unknown afterlife, but simply because that’s not the kind of person I want to be.

 

However, I must also state that neither am I card-carrying Atheist. I am one of those people who are amazed by everything from a hummingbird to the seemingly infinite Universe.  I am, as well, totally gob-smacked when I ponder the incredible things that the human species has already figured out and will, in no doubt, continue figuring out. (If you want a good example of my feelings about this click here to read the monologue in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “What a piece of work is a man”, but stop when you get to that “quintessence of dust“ part. That’s the point where Hamlet gets to be a real downer.) I do personally believe there are many more truths yet to be discovered and much more refining to be done on what we have already come to understand.

 

That being said, my focus in this introductory article, and the self-described “updating” of the bible that I propose, is aimed not upon spiritual beliefs in general, but upon religion in its Fundamentalist form. I can sum up the meaning of “Fundamentalism” with this succinct dictionary definition: Religious movements characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of their avowed holy texts.

 

This book-driven belief system, prevalent within Fundamentalist sects in American Protestantism and in Islam, concerns itself with primarily:

·      Ideas concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe as disposed by an all-powerful supernatural entity.

·      Ways in which devotional and ritual observances should be carried out. (Wear a hat, take off your hat, don’t eat pork, eat fish on Fridays, don’t wear a pork chop on your head on every Tuesday with an odd-numbered date.)

·      The specifics of a moral code that governs all human affairs.  (Thou shalt not do this, that or the other thing.)

 

Due to the relatively small minority of Americans who follow the teachings of Islam, when we speak of contributions to the proliferation of stupidity in the United States, we need to turn our vitriolic attention specifically to Christian Fundamentalism. The Religious Right predominantly accomplishes this dumbing-down by dismissing the accepted scientific paradigms that explain the world around us. Any time information from the world of science counters the “written word of God”, the movers and shakers of Fundamentalist thought declare it to be “an abomination” and tell their adherents to squint their eyes shut, put their fingers in their ears and yell “La-La-La-La-La-La-La-La.” in as loud a voice as possible until the nasty, unholy scientific idea goes away.

 

The Bible, in it’s long-time perch on the New York Times Best seller list, must be acknowledged as a book that was written by a plethora of ostensibly well-meaning authors, prophets, and lunatics, as well as their subsequent editors.  Although I certainly lay no claim to being the recipient of any deistic mutterings of late and the only accurate prophesy of mine has been my predicted coming of a pumpernickel bagel with my Sunday morning breakfast, I do consider myself an author. As such, I have taken it upon myself to try and reinterpret various passages of the Bible so that they do not contribute, any more than they have already, to the tsunami of Stupid that has been increasingly drowning America. Its not that I’m trying to take the fun out of fundamentalism, but… if you want a bible that you can take literally, let’s just fix it folks!

 

Since, Fundamentalism, as we mentioned, emphasizes a total unswerving devotion to the “literal words of God”, (as they interpret it) then I think its time for us to simply update the “literal word of God”. If, in doing so, the Fundamentalists and the “thinking world” can come to an intellectual agreement on the true meanings just a few dozen paltry words of the Biblical lexicon, then the Christian Bible, in its swirling literary chaos of myths, inferences, metaphors, implied history, miracles, laws, commandments, etc. could be read with a Fundamentalist eye and preached in such a way that it would no longer contribute to the plunge of their parishioner’s IQ to the level of Lennie in Steinbeck’s  “Of Mice and Men”.

“Tell me about the Exodus, George.”

 

Please note that the corrections and comments that I plan on making in this series of articles concentrate only on science, or the lack thereof in the Bible. By the addition of the knowledge attained about the natural world based on accepted facts learned through experiments and observation, I will attempt to reach a less alienating consensus between the hard-core, word-for-word believers and those who would feel their intelligences were less insulted by seeing the stories of the Old Testament, in particular, taken as a figurative narration based on a scientific foundation. It is by adding information to the Bible, as well as editing and interpreting certain stories and passages, that I hope to allow those who want a book that they can take literally as Holy Scripture become proud functioning members of the Twenty-First Century.

 

The last thing that I mean to do is to shake my head with a sardonic smirk and say “Silly Prophets. You’ve got it all wrong.” The “original” Bible and most of its pre-industrial age re-writes should indeed be forgiven for their scientific inaccuracies as we would any other written works from the antiquity. We don’t read a Greek myth like that of Icarus and Daedalus, and tear apart the story by spouting scientific evidence of why it’s not real. Nobody since ancient Greece has looked at this tale of a guy with wings of wax and feathers, who flew too close to the sun and ended up plummeting to his untimely demise, with anything more than the mildly amused thought of “Wow! What an idiot!”. In the eyes of Fundamentalists, however the entire Bible, as is, must be taken as literal fact. Nonetheless, like any other publication that claims to be non-fiction, the Bible is a book that absolutely screams to be updated every so often.

 

In science, new paradigms constantly replace the old. During the Renaissance men like Copernicus and Galileo proved that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Thus this new scientific paradigm replaces the Ptolemaic vision of a geo-centric universe. Therefore all the lines in the Bible and there are many (Job 9:7 and Psalm 19:4-6 to name just a few) that infer or even specifically mention that the Sun revolves around the Earth, should be updated. After all it’s been over 500 years since Copernicus set things straight and even the Vatican admitted that Galileo was right. I suppose we should say “its better late than never.” I guess.

 

Before signing off I should state that there are many inaccuracies in the Bible that I will avoid addressing.  Things such as figures of speech and obvious metaphors need to be taken as such, and there are, as well, a multitude of historical inaccuracies throughout the Bible. I will not devote any time to dealing these non-scientific issues. As someone who has spent half a lifetime studying and writing about history I am quite aware that any ancient texts need to be taken with a grain of salt the size of Job’s wife (of which there is no scientific evidence by the way.) Maybe in some future series of articles I will consider taking on the more obvious historical fallacies evident in the Bible, but for now let’s just concentrate on correcting the science and re-writing a passage here and there to make this book a trifle more realistic and less apt to stupefy that part of the population who read the Bible for inspiration and the solace-imparting effect of its words.

 

NEXT WEEK:

THE NEW GENESIS

(And no, I don’t mean the one that featured Phil Collins rather than Peter Gabriel!)

The American Educational System: Part 1: Knocking It Down from the Basement Up

Slide1For those of you who have been patient enough to follow my admittedly irregular output in this blog, you are aware that I narrow down the blame for the continuing level of stupid that America churns out, to what I refer to as our “Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle”: The Mainstream Mass Media, The American Educational System, Fundamentalist Religion and Politico-Corporate Greed (politicians beholding to corporate America due to unabashed, big-money lobbying efforts). To one extent or another these entities all contribute, sometimes purposely, sometimes by accident, to keeping as much of the American public as dumb as a squeaking floorboard as possible.

Today I will turn my fuming queries toward a “horseman” that is close to my heart: The American Educational System.

As many of you already know, I am a New York City High School Teacher. I find that most people, upon being informed of this, come down on one side of the fence or the other. I am either a dedicated educator who should be admired and/or pitied for working in such a challenging environment, or I, personally, am the sole reason that little Johnny graduated school without the ability to even stumble through what passes for news in the New York Post, figure out a paycheck, or name the current President of the United States. I’m an adult, so I can take the putdowns, the pity and even the admiration on the rare occasion it comes, but everyone should be made aware that it is going to take a lot more than sacking me and every other dedicated professional, who tries to put your kid on the right track, in order to make an educational system that really works. Nothing, but nothing, is going to be able to repair the American Educational System, other than knocking it down from the basement up.

I recently had the opportunity of attending a Professional Development Seminar put on by my school at a very pleasant, upscale conference center. The main speaker at this event was a social worker who presented an extremely interesting lecture and PowerPoint entitled: “Enhancing Executive Functioning and Self-Regulation: A Solution Focused Strategy” or in layman’s terms: “How to Get Pissed-Off Kids to Calm Themselves Down”. One of the things that this presentation addressed, which I found quite intriguing, was a section about “Developmental Issues Affecting Anxiety” The crux of this idea was put in terms of a formula: (Processing Needs) ÷ (Processing Capacity) = (the Percentage of Overload) in a student that can lead to him shutting down. Put more simply: the amount of information you are trying to stuff into a kid’s head needs to be no more than what the kid’s brain can deal with. If the student in question can’t process what you are trying to input, then his mental cup shall runneth over, leaving either a kid who is falling asleep in class or an exploding emotional mess, which you as the teacher will be expected to clean up.

The speaker then went on to explain how with patience, and a few minutes of devoted one-on-one time, a teacher could defuse the situation and reclaim the student back into the fold. At this point I took it upon myself to ask what I thought was a relevant question: How do we deal with such a manifestation when we have a classroom full of thirty kids and no backup from Administration? How do we: A) Avoid overstuffing a student’s limited cranium? B) Continue to teach the class while the emotional overflow from this kid spills out through the classroom like a didactic tsunami? He smiled and gave me a simple answer that I translated to mean, “You’re screwed.”

Indeed, we are.

Throughout our country, the norm for school funding is to throw a modicum of money at a problem that is currently deemed to be “of primary importance” by the bureaucrats, Board of Education Members and politicians that are ostensibly running the show. It is the easiest and the most visible way to deal with things. However, It’s like throwing water a teaspoon at a time on a blazing twenty-story inferno. Everybody around sees that you are attempting something, but you, as Chief Teaspoon Holder, know its not, in any way, sufficient to solve the problem.

The American Educational System is quite simply beyond the repair efforts of the best-intentioned teachers, administrators, bureaucrats and politicians. Furthermore, no piddling millions of dollars thrown at individual problems, no increasing demands placed on students grade by grade, no attempts to separate the chaff from the grain by evaluating “effective” educators through linking them to high-stakes test scores, is going to bring about the change necessary to thrust America into the 21st Century world of a competitive global economy. The sole way to accomplish this goal is to utterly destroy the whole American Educational System from the bottom up and create a new National Educational System dedicated to raising the helping a generation of students become the best, most successful and most emotionally stable human beings that they can be.

One major factor, which those who dictate the way we carry out education in our country never address is the fact that unlike the countries, considered models for “doing education right” (IE: Finland, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, Canada and the Netherlands) the United States of America is not a single homogenous* nation.

Despite America’s long-standing rhetoric of being “one nation” and the admirable ability of the United States to come together in times of crisis, we are, and always have been affected by a provincial sectionalism supported by the Constitution. It is due to this undeniable fact that the “American” Educational System has evolved into 50 different educational organizations none of which is educating its students on par with the aforementioned homogeneous* nations. It is therefore time for a massive change in the way we educate our children.

Starting in the “basement” (kindergarten) the old structure, the outmoded and self-defeating method of education based on progression through subsequent grades should be disassembled, replaced by an entirely new system based on a ‘rolling curriculum”. This should not be done by grade level, where if a student “passes” 1st grade in June, they go on to 2nd grade in September, but rather with a rolling proficiency where as soon as a student solidly gets down a concept/skill they move immediately to the next level. No more consecutive grades!

Such a program would, of course, entail a massive increase in hiring and training/retraining; every successive level of competency in Language Skills, Mathematical Concepts, Health, Citizenship, Science, Technology and Social Interaction would require not only teachers, but well-trained paraprofessionals, child psychologists, councilors and administrators all working as a real team, within a carefully developed rolling curriculum. This system would continue until the student is ready for college or a professional training/apprenticeship program. There would be no specific age for graduation; students would be assisted even, if necessary, at a one-to-one teaching ratio in order to meet the competencies necessary to be a well-educated and functioning member of society. Not every graduating student need be well versed in trigonometry; just in the same way not everyone needs to know how to fix an automatic transmission. The view must be instilled that we all have different talents and skills that we can excel at, and there is no shame in choosing training in skilled labor or some other career that does not require a traditional, university-based education.
Remember:
“It is better to be a content sanitation worker, than an unhappy, unfulfilled nuclear physicist.”

Coming soon: Revamping the American Educational System: How Do We Pay for it?

*It should be understood that by the use of the word homogeneous here, I am not referring to ethnic or racial identity, but rather a country where sectionalism is limited or even non-existent.

Mainstream Mass Media Part 1 – TV Advertising

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Between the kind of stupidity that comes from the unquestioning acceptance of opinions steeped in certitude, and that born of seething anger at perceived unfairness and fed by effective rhetoric, the ability of America to excel as a thinking nation is being impinged upon. As I have mentioned in a previous blog post, the intellectual capabilities of the United States are being dumbed down and maintained in this state by four primary causes: Our “Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle”: The Mainstream Mass Media, The American Educational System, Fundamentalist Religion and Politico-Corporate Greed (politicians beholding to corporate America due to unabashed, big-money lobbying efforts).

 It is to one of the Horsemen in particular that I would like to focus my naïve line of inquiry today by asking: In what ways does the Mainstream Mass Media contribute to the creation and maintenance of “Stupid” in the United States of America? First of all, what exactly do I mean the phrase ‘Mainstream Mass Media’? If we break the phrase up into its composite parts, then agglomerate them back together into a single working definition, we come up with something like the following: Mainstream Mass Media is the communication of conventional, contemporary ideas, attitudes, or activities to large numbers of people via forms of communication such as video, audio, print and the Internet. To make our definition even more succinct, we could say that it is “Information disseminated at the fastest speed possible to the greatest number of people possible.” The type of information that is being spread, of course, determines whether this communication is beneficial (enlightening, truthful) or it is acting as a detriment to society by being ignorant or even purposely deceitful.

The perfect examples of both of these varieties of information can be witnessed in TV commercials, those Mephistophelean messages that streak across our TV screen as we are glued to our favorite programs. Perhaps due to a deep-seated, unconscious sense of affection for the rabbit-eared babysitter of my past and the never-ending video-loop nanny on to which I, on more than one occasion, pawned the care of my children, I cannot bring myself in good conscience to totally vilify, to quote Frank Zappa, “the slime oozing out of your TV set”. In fact, since the day that these glorious black-and-white-cathode-ray-shrines popped into our living rooms in the 1950s, commercial television has had a very straightforward relationship with its viewers. The tacit agreement between those who run for-profit TV and the American public is: “If we provide you with programs that you can stomach watching, then you will agree to also endure our sponsor’s consumer-geared propaganda.” On the advertiser’s part, the simple economics of their association with TV dictates that if the stuff pumped into the boob-tube is not drawing the admiring eyes of the American public, then sponsors are not going to pay the big bucks for televised attempts to capture your hard-earned consumer dollars. In other words, if I am an advertiser, it doesn’t matter to me whether the TV is broadcasting an “E”-Spectacular devoted to the talent and genius of Kim Kardashian, or if Leonard Bernstein is brought back from the dead to conduct Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony from the planet Mars. I’m going with the one that can sell the most Evian Sparkling Tap Water, New DKNY Designer Maxi-Pads or Chocolate-Covered Lard Bars. So, in essence, we should not expect Mainstream Mass Media, in most cases, to aim for anything higher than the lowest common denominator, since this lowbrow targeting is usually to the benefit of those who buy the advertising time.

There was a time, in our not-too-distant, television-infused past, when the symbiotic relationship between TV show and advertiser was a little more sinister. A particular sponsor was often the sole backer of a TV show and thus had an iron fist of control over the morals and messages with which, the program or even its stars might be associated. Programs such as The Hallmark Hall of FameThe Kraft Television Theatre and many others that did not feature the sponsor’s name in the title, paid all the production costs and therefore were the absolute bosses.

With the rising production costs of live TV (an average 500% increase from 1949 to 1952)* and the advent of those sixty-second propaganda blips, such dictatorial sponsorship declined and eventually network television evolved into a sort of entertainment-picnic, replete with the steady swarm of commercial, mind-control gnats that still annoy us to this today. The demise of sponsor-directed programming was also impelled by the revelation that the underwriting advertisers were rigging outcomes for a few popular television game shows like “The $64,000 Question”. It’s safe to say that innocent Post-War America, would not see this level of shaken confidence until Richard “I’m-not-a-crook” Nixon and his cronies imploded in midst of the Watergate Scandal twenty years later.

Certainly, if the TV programming is aimed at an audience with the functioning IQ of a jellybean, then it makes sense that advertisers will focus on this numb-noggined crowd as well. It is therefore my belief that television advertisements do not consciously work to deplete our fast-diminishing grey matter. They merely take advantage of the situation by bottom trawling the easy pickings with a massive net meant to snare all the tons of lame-brained krill skittering around the muck of our society’s insipid depths. But, to quote an old friend of mine, “this don’t make ‘em bad people”, at least no more than a vulture or crow that takes advantage of abundant road kill. These advertisers didn’t create the mass of stupid that lies waiting to be consumed, no more than the aforementioned scavengers can be accused of pushing that unsuspecting possum or raccoon in front of an oncoming car. They are there to reap the benefit, to pluck at the tasty morsels so they can feed their hungry brood… just like the crows and vultures do.

So… it seems that we can’t really blame the advertising industry for the rising level of stupid in our country. They’re just doing what comes naturally in taking advantage of that gathering mass of stupid. However, some of their methods do seem to act as a litmus test for discerning just how dumb the American consumer can get. I’d be quite surprised if subliminal advertising such as the word “SEX” barely perceptible in the ice cubes of a cocktail ever sold a bottle of gin, however, I’m pretty sure ads we get in the mail claiming that “you may already be a winner!” sold a good number of Reader’s Digest subscriptions.

Although we can’t in fairness point a finger at TV advertising as contributing factor in the dumbing down of America, in many cases it does seem to propagate a feeling of self-contempt. While the advertisers carryout this variety of bottom feeding, they simultaneously try to convince the rest of us that we are unworthy of life in this vast, beautiful, capitalist playground that we call America. Hour-long infomercials try to convince us how ugly, wrinkled, obese and unnecessarily poor we are. Throughout the day prevalent one-minute shots at our egos quickly explain why our kitchen floors do not shine, (the wrong floor wax, obviously.) why we have so few friends (the wrong kind of beer or mouthwash?) and why the Gods are, in general, against us if we don’t have a car insurance with a good Anglo-accented spokes-gecko.

And remember America, if your children don’t love you…

Ask not for whom the Nestlé’s Toll-House Cookie Ad tolls, it tolls for thee.

 

   * http://www.museum.tv/eotv/sponsor.htm

 

I Digress

(First of all let me humbly apologize for my technologically induced hiatus. Although I was able to save all my files of past importance, certain artistic applications have gone to meet The Great Programmer in the Cybersphere and unless I sell one of my children or a few of my cats, it will not be back. Therefore please allow me to return to your good graces with a slight ramble appropriately entitled: “I Digress”)

I Digress

One of the advantages of committing oneself to writing a blog is the strange egocentric feeling that I have indeed annexed my own little piece of cyberspace. Without meaning to sound certifiably insane, I find this new, occasional pastime quite liberating. I can do whatever I want here! Fear not! I do promise to keep my clothes on as I frolic through this strange antediluvian forest we call the English language. However, once in a while, I may ask the reader to bear with me as I defy the laws of grammatical gravity and allow myself to oft-times indulge in idiosyncratic flights of poetic license.

For instance, I state now, for the record, that I fully intend to use the word “stupid” as a noun. You are powerless to stop me. Oh… you can stop reading my blog, but I will continue to use this particular word in this rather unconventional way. While you’re off looking up old flames on Facebook and Googling “can has cheezburger” kitties, I will continue to force the word “stupid” from its proper and comfortable existence as an adjective, into my warped realm and bend it to my every whim in statements such as:

“As the politician spoke to the TV reporter, slathers of stupid foamed from his mouth and on to the microphone.”

“The Trump supporters filed into the auditorium, their bright red hats proudly perched like teetering buckets of stupid on their pointy little heads.”

“TV’s newest reality star, void of talent or any other characteristic that would be considered celebrity-worthy, had a wardrobe malfunction on the red carpet, allowing the crowd at the awards ceremony a brief, titillating glimpse of her amply endowed stupid.

I know some of you are wondering why I don’t just use the noun “stupidity”? As in:

“The news anchor’s stupidity was palpable.”

The word stupidity, however, does not suit my diabolical plans. It is a quality, as opposed to a unique substance that seems measurable. I prefer my idiocy in hunks and pounds.:

“How many kilos of stupid do you suppose that bureaucrat has stuffed in his head?”

“When the customer service rep, who put me on hold for twenty minutes, came pack to the phone, her words mixed with a large, peanut-butter-thick spoonful of stupid as she tried to explain why she couldn’t (wouldn’t? shouldn’t?) help me close my mobile phone account.”

There. You see? It is much more effective using stupid as a noun. It can be weighed, doled out, lent to someone who might otherwise be intelligent. It could even be put in your pocket to be used at a later date, like when you have an inexplicable urge to commit a faux-pas, striking up a conversation with a woman regarding when her baby is due, only to find that she’s pleasingly plump instead of presumptuously pregnant. There is no end to the utility that can be found for the right measure of stupid. Why, we could even back up cement mixers full of stupid to our border with Mexico and build that bloody wall!

 

The Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle

Bamboozle:   [bam-boo-zuh l]                                                     

 verb (used with object), bamboozled, bamboozling.

 to deceive or get the better of (someone) by underhanded methods, trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink (often followed by into):

                                           They bamboozled us into believing that we were smart.    

————————————————————————-

If you are going to plagiarize a metaphor, you might as well rip off one of the greatest ones of all time, especially if it has been safely in the public domain for more than 2000 years. Although our “Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle” cannot claim to represent something quite as catastrophic as their biblical forbearers, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (After all, being a harbinger of the “end of times” is a hard act to follow) they are, in the non-scriptural reality of their existence, something even more threatening.

 

Our Horsemen: the American Educational System, Mainstream Mass Media, Politico-Corporate Greed and Religious Fundamentalism make an interesting team, though not by any means a well coordinated one. All four, some purposely and others unwittingly, are contributing to the rising tide of “Stupid” that is sweeping over a sizable portion of America’s population. Do I think that these institutions are working closely together in some shared conspiracy to dumb down America and make us all a mindless, anti-science bunch of consumerist zombies? Absolutely not! First of all, “conspiracy” is a strong word that should be used sparingly, although I must admit some of the weirder “conspiracies” are tempting for someone with an imagination to fathom. I would love to throw intellectual caution to the wind and believe in conspiracies about the hidden alien remains at Area 51, the fluoridated drinking water meant to turn us into a nation of cavity-free weaklings, and the war to the death going on between the secret remnants of the Knights Templar and the Vatican over a cover-up of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene. I would, however, have to draw the line at believing F.D.R. let the attack on Pearl Harbor happen to get us involved in World War II, or blaming George W. for 9/11, (although I do blame the little weasel and his cronies for a Hell of a lot since then). Also, Just for the record, I am a firm believer that it took more than that wimp Oswald to successfully carry out the Kennedy assassination (lone gunman, my ass).

 

Our Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle, however, do not, in any way, operate under a conspiracy. These creations of our modern, manipulative age are complicated, massive and long-standing societal fixtures. Attempting to carry out a conspiracy involving entities like these would be like trying to coordinate the Swiss Navy, the Royal Army of Tonga, the Harlem Globe Trotters, and the Bolshoi Ballet in an attack on Bolivia to liberate Mongolia. It wouldn’t work, but it would be totally ‘effin fun to watch on CNN.

 

Nope, no conspiracy here, but The Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle, each have a lot to gain from maintaining the status quo of stupidity, and they all participate in and benefit from the dumbing-down of America for reasons as complex as they are varied. Therefore, the next questions we need to examine are: If encumbering the sloth-minded masses among us with a blanket of mindlessness is purposeful, what are the Horsemen’s ultimate goals? On the other hand, if a certain proportion of our stupidity is accidental, is it simply unexpected fallout from some other undertaking, or is the idiocy a byproduct of conscious choices, other ambitions that are seen as more of a priority than the raising of a literate and creative populous?

 

If we were able to interview our Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle, and, even more amazing, if we were able to extract truthful answers from them, what would their responses be to our prime question: Why are you screwing a good potion of the American public and in consequence the rest of the nation, by forcing them to dwell in the world of the “Stupid”?

Mainstream Mass Media says:

  • It is easier for us to provide a slanted opinion geared to our corporation’s benefit than to allow our viewers to be exposed to counterpoints that would confuse their teeny-tiny monkey brains.
  •  A malleable mind = good ad reception.

Politico-Corporate Greed says:

  • If our forefathers had wanted a country built on true democracy, they would not have invented the Electoral College, super delegates for political conventions, the filibuster and a Supreme Court that would side with Citizens United. (I know the founding fathers couldn’t have foreseen something like Citizens United, but it and the ruling that upheld it are such anti-democratic travesties that I couldn’t ignore them.)
  •  An ignorant electorate = a non-voting electorate = continuation of our cozy little status quo.

 Religious Fundamentalism says:

  •  Its easier to manipulate people when you can tell them frightening, make-believe stories that can take their minds off such disturbing tools of the Devil as science and reality.
  •  A dumber congregation means more money for us, and the continuation of our tax-free con games.

 The American Educational System says:

  • It’s easier imparting bargain-basement education than it is to spend the big bucks to make an enlightened instructional system that is the envy of the entire world.
  •  It is easier to continually jerry-rig repairs to a rickety, barely functional, old structure, than it is to build a brand new exceptional one from the bottom up.

The one premise that I’m sure all of the Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle would agree on is that it is easier to control the masses and to hide things from them when they are in essence stupid or at least can be maintained in their ignorance. This is accomplished in several key ways: 

  • Manipulation via out and out lies. (There is really no way to sugarcoat that bit of noxious information.)
  • Misinformation spread by the ill informed (AKA stupid or ignorant) to the even more ill informed (AKA even stupider and more ignorant). This includes parents, other relatives and friends as well as the Media, Fundamentalists, and the Politico-Corporate structure.
  • Misdirection: Don’t worry your little simian noggin about that, check out this nice yummy banana!

Our Four Horsemen of the Bamboozle use the “Three M’s” above (Manipulation, Misinformation and Misdirection) in a continued effort to keep as many people in the dark as possible. If nothing else, it is my sincerest hope that the questions asked in this blog will have the effect of encouraging a few who have not done so already, to flick on their lights.

 

 

Eric Stowell is an educator who teaches Government, Economics, History and Philosophy in an urban high school. Though he does not claim to have definitive answers to the question “Why is America so stupid?” this blog intends to be devoted to examining various aspects of this important query, as well as all of its political, educational and social ramifications. Mr. Stowell takes full responsibility for any thoughts that appear here

For updates and to get on the email list click here: WhyIsAmericaSoStupid.com

Smack-Down: Ignorance VS. Stupid

I AND S WRESTLERS copy

 

What would be the outcome if we were able to personify Ignorance and Stupidity into the form of two WWE wrestlers and throw them in an arena for a serious Smack-Down match? To answer this question properly begs a thorough definition and differentiation between our two characters, because the negative attributes of “stupidity” should never be confused with those of “ignorance”, a totally different and curable malady. The defining characteristic of ignorance is the absence of the specific information necessary to make the correct, or best, decision. As children, we are, of course, ignorant of just about everything. We know that food is good, the discomfort of a poopy diaper is bad, and the large purple dinosaur on the TV has yet to be determined as frightening or simply annoying. As we grow, under the watchful eyes of competent adults, our forgivable ignorance is supplanted by new, and sometimes useful, information. Such admonitions as: “don’t run with sharp objects”, “don’t eat sand” and “don’t stick your tongue in the light socket” provide us with some of the information necessary to help us survive, at least to adolescence.

If we are lucky, we are assisted along our path of life by a trustworthy inner circle of family and friends totally devoted to our best interests. It is at this point where the choo choo train of intellect can become derailed. Many of us continue to accept information imparted to us by our trusted cadre and ask no questions in return. This faith is extended as we mature and our circle of trust may come to include entities that do not necessarily have our best interests at heart.

We see examples of these unreliable entities everyday:

  • The smiling guy in the sun costume on TV, who is trying to convince you to chow down on grease-infused tubes of anonymous animal parts.

 

  • The clean-cut State Assemblyman who swears that continuing tax breaks to the wealthy (particularly the wealthy that contribute to his campaign) will create new and better paying jobs for the little guy. Money will just stream out of the overstuffed pockets of the wealthy and trickle down like a sunny shaft of gold onto our heads. (You may notice that the golden trickle-down from above is moister than expected and smells a little like ammonia.)

 

  • The American Educational System, which despite the sincere best efforts of the large majority of teachers, is hampered by corporate billionaires who think throwing money at charter schools gives them the right to dictate methodology. (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Bill Gates.) Also,we need to face the fact that we live in a country that prioritizes the production of Stealth Bombers that go for over $737 million a piece (on sale!) over creating a nation of citizens who can actually think past the intellectual ability of a Third grader.

 

  • The proponents of Fundamentalism, whose theologies, at their best, have still not gotten beyond the idea that Copernicus might have been right about that “earth-spinnin’-’round-the-sun thing”, not to mention the notion that dinosaurs died out during a 4000-year-old flood. I may seem unfeeling, but I find the picture of the mammoth heads of Mr. and Mrs. Tyrannosaurus barely above water, their teeny-tiny arms flailing away as they try to close the gap between them and an uncaring arc, pretty freaking funny. At their worst Fundamentalists use their various books to support misogyny, child abuse, intolerance and (although not the mainstream in America) lopping off the heads of blasphemes, infidels, and dangerous archeologists.

Although the ones we identify as Ignorant might allow themselves to be manipulated by these Four Horseman of the Bamboozle, if supplied with new enlightening information, there is a least a chance that they can start to see though the charade and maybe even begin to ask questions. Whereas Stupid’s tendency is to dismiss any “scientific claptrap” or “elitist ideas” in favor of the easier course: a smooth, straight road free of intellectual clutter. The path might lead directly over a bubbling volcano, but at least Stupid can step into that deadly chasm with a smile on his face and the unshakable faith that Adam and Eve, Fox News, the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense and the Politico-Corporate elite in general are all working in unison to make America great again.

However, let us return to our “Ignorance versus Stupid Smack-Down”. I am quite confident that if Ignorance and Stupidity could indeed be personified for a wrestling match that, even if Stupid had the swiftness of Rey Mysterio, the size of Andre the Giant and the muscles of The Rock himself, I would still bet all my money on Ignorance to win. The thing Ignorance has going for him is that with Ignorance anything is possible. He’s not ruling anything out, because he is simply not aware of what he doesn’t know! Where Stupid may get irrevocably tangled in the wrestling ring’s ropes, Ignorance might take a while to find his way into the ring, but there’s a good chance he’ll get there eventually. Where Stupid will try all sorts of India-Rubber-Man kind of moves to pin his adversary and end up a discombobulated human pretzel, Ignorance is the kind of wrestler that picks up a folding chair, bashes his opponent in the head and then shrugs his shoulders and says. “Oh, sorry. I didn’t know there was a rule about that sort of thing.”

Remember, anything Ignorance does can’t be held against him… He’s Ignorant! It’s his Raison D’etre . Whereas Stupid? Well, to quote one of the great fictitious Ignorant Americans of all time, Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as Stupid does.”

With Ignorance there is always hope,

  …but there ain’t no cure for Stupid.